Written by Tami Boesiger
In the normal busyness of life before Coronavirus, there were weeks I didn’t see my husband much. We lived in the same house, slept in the same bed, yet some weeks I thought, “Gosh I miss him.” But lately I’m seeing a lot more of him. At first I was pretty sure I hit the jackpot because I really like that guy, but after a while I tired of seeing him sitting in the same spot, his iPad in hand, playing the same game over and over, oblivious to my whereabouts. No doubt he’s felt the same way as I hunker down in my office or settle into bed, lost in my own little world. Weekends seem unusually long and boring. I find myself feeling irked by stupid things, and there are times I want to scream at him to just make a decision already!
I love him. I really do, but being exposed to the idiosyncrasies of each other on a more regular basis skews the perspective a bit, you know? Can you relate? Have you seen a little too much of the people you love most? Are you annoyed by their sleeping in, or questioning how they spend their time? How can we keep our cool and stay civil while spending more and more time together?
Acknowledge the conflict and give grace.
This is a really weird time, I mean, a REALLY WEIRD TIME! Acknowledge that. Recognize you have never lived through a pandemic before. We have to learn how to do it. It will take trial and error, and practice, and grace, lots and lots of grace. This is stressful! Don’t be surprised when the “grrr” starts mounting. It’s bound to happen. Don’t ignore it or pretend it doesn’t exist. Acknowledge it as part of the deal and choose grace.
Be thankful there’s another human in your home.
Can you imagine a quarantine without anyone to talk to, eat with, or process your fears? You both may have your fill of hearing your daughter belt out “Let it Go,” but you have to admit there’s some entertainment value there. Enjoy what you have in common, like a hankering for ice cream or the cuteness of your dog. When all the togetherness is causing you to stop for deep breaths, remind yourself to be grateful for the ready interaction when you want it. Not everyone has it.
Give each other space.
Have you heard about Susannah Wesley, mother of evangelists John and Charles Wesley? Susannah had 19 children in the seventeenth century, long before technology and gadgets exploded into family life to keep people occupied. Every day at a certain time, Susannah would throw her apron over her head, signaling to the family she was not available. She found space amid a household of 19 children! Surely, we can do the same in our marriages. Designate quiet zones or times where interaction is limited. Being home does not require you to be in the same room. Find more tolerance as you give each other space.
Mix up your routine.
Shut off the television and listen to a podcast instead. Try playing a game you haven’t thought about in years. Start a new book or devotional sparking different topics to discuss. Bring out the home movies and reminisce. Have a picnic in the back yard. Do something different to break up the monotony. Remember the novelty of your first dates? They were fun because they involved something new. Introduce some newness and see if it helps.
Rekindle love and appreciation through touch.
In times of isolation, we need touch more than ever. Count yourself fortunate to have someone in your home to provide the soothing that comes with physical connection. Sit closer on the couch. Take her hand. Give a playful squeeze on the way by, reminding him you are present. Hebrews 10:24-25 instructs us, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another . . .” It may be stretching the application a bit, but can I suggest we continue (ahem) “meeting together” to reinforce loving feelings? Intimacy builds patience and tolerance, inducing “love and good deeds.” Now is not the time to refrain.
Remember your spouse is not the enemy.
Did you catch that? Your spouse is not the enemy! Yes, he may have played one too many games on the Xbox, but he is not your foe. The familiar “Honey?” may cause you to cringe, dreading the inevitable request that follows, but she’s on your side. Your spouse is not the enemy. COVID is the enemy. Give your beloved a break and remember you’re on the same team.
Yes, you may be going stir crazy these days, but don’t kill your spouse. That will only complicate matters. Give each other space and keep touching. Try something new. Be thankful, be gracious, and love each other well. Know the cooped-up feeling will pass. We will get through this. One day at a time.